Contamination Issues in Rural Areas of Nebraska From Runoff or Spring Flooding


For many people in rural Nebraska, spring flooding is simply an inconvenience that may affect their vehicle access in certain areas. Unfortunately, the snowmelt runoff occurring in early spring could play a significant role in the deterioration of the water quality in receiving water sources. As snowfall has gradually increased in certain regions and we are experiencing snowstorms more frequently, we are seeing a higher volume of snowmelt runoff in Spring, which not only increases the risk of flooding, but could compromise our water quality in both surface and groundwater sources.Contamination Issues in Rural Areas of Nebraska From Runoff or Spring Flooding

The Danger to Nebraska’s Water Resources

Nebraska is considered to have some of the best water resources, not only in the United States, but in the world. Should it all be pumped to the surface, the groundwater aquifers could cover the entire state with almost 40 feet of water. Since the groundwater is so reliable and plentiful, approximately 85% of Nebraska’s residents rely on groundwater as a drinking water source. We also have an extensive supply of surface water resources totaling 24,000 miles of streams and rivers and lakes of approximately 430 square miles.

The chief danger of flooding and snowmelt runoff is that the waters can carry topsoil and chemicals into streams, causing contamination of surface waters. For over 50 years, there has been a strong agricultural industry that has allowed agricultural chemicals and fertilizers to cause groundwater contamination in certain parts of the state.

Why is Groundwater Contamination a Concern?

Human activity causing contamination of groundwater is a serious problem since the contaminants are likely to travel undetected into wells and water supplies. Once contaminated, it is both expensive and difficult to clean up an aquifer. The contaminants disperse into the groundwater and could be present for years. This means that prevention is immeasurably cheaper and simpler than treatment.

The Types of Water Contamination

There is a seemingly endless list of potential contaminants, including petroleum products, synthetic organic chemicals, radioactive compounds and biological matter. The specific contamination can depend on the geology, geographical location or location of industrial activities. For example, groundwater can be affected by seawater intrusion impacting coastal areas or acid mine drainage occurring in the coalfields in the Appalachians. Neither are issues here in Nebraska, but other potential sources of contamination include municipal landfills, underground storage tanks, and septic tank effluents. The impact on the groundwater can range from relatively non-harmful aesthetic changes such as a colored tint or unpleasant taste to potentially serious imminent health hazards and genuine toxicity as in the Flint Michigan lead water problem.

Protecting Your Family no Matter What the Season

Although the EPA regulates municipal water treatment standards, the large volume of snowmelt runoff can mean that contamination issues can cause a problem for those who do not rely on municipal water. If your home uses a private well for its water supply, you have the responsibility of ensuring that your well is regularly tested, especially after flooding or periods of heavy rain and snowmelt runoff this Spring. If you are concerned about the impact of spring flooding on your water quality, you may wish to consider a domestic water treatment solution. A good quality system can eliminate contaminants from your water, ensuring that you and your family enjoy a safe, delicious tasting water supply, regardless of the time of year.

About The Author, Terry Reeh, EcoWater Systems of Nebraska:

With more than 25 years experience in the residential and commercial water treatment space, Terry is a WQA (Water Quality Association) certified water specialist, LEVEL 3, as well as a WQA certified sales representative.  EcoWater Systems of Nebraska is one of the biggest water treatment and water delivery businesses in the state and Terry currently sits on EcoWater Systems (a Berkshire Hathaway Company) national Peers committee, as a water treatment expert advising other water professionals with less experience on best trade and technology practices.

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